If you haven’t heard the latest news from the Delonte West camp, it’s not great. West, whose struggles have been well-documented and thoroughly examined, was suspended indefinitely from the Dallas Mavericks, then cut. He took to Twitter to plead his case (probably a less than responsible choice, but there you have it), and the Mavericks are keeping a lid on the situation, so we can’t really know what happened. Suffice to say that Delonte’s situation remains as complicated and volatile as ever.
If you HAD heard that the Mavericks cut West before the preceding paragraph, there’s a good chance you immediately thought “Well, at least now he can pursue his burgeoning rap career.” Just kidding. If you are like me, you wondered if the Celtics could/should/would consider picking up the troubled guard. Again.
Over at SB Nation Boston, Gethin Coolbaugh wondered the same thing:
West may not be a pure point like Rondo, but he has played more point than most of the Celtics’ current backups (with Terry being the only possible exception), and he knows Doc Rivers’ tendencies and how the C’s run their offense. In theory, it wouldn’t take West long to catch up, and given his clean history in Boston and the fact that he probably wouldn’t want to be waived twice in one season, it’s a safe bet that he’d be on his best behavior. [...]
Look at it this way. The NBA is a talent drive league. Is West more talented than Joseph? Yes. Can he fill a void better than any other player on this roster? Yes.
Coolbaugh’s two main points are as follows:
- Delonte West never really had any problems in Boston, and he could fill in at point guard, since the Celtics don’t really have a backup for Rondo.
- Even though Kris Joseph was given the last roster spot, the NBA is a business with no room for hurt feelings.
These are both valid points. The Celtics could really use a player like West, who can play point guard. He also knows Boston’s system, so presumably it wouldn’t take him very long to figure things out. And as much as we may wish it otherwise at times, if one player is better/more useful to a team than another, the team shouldn’t hesitate to pick the better option. Every time.
The problem is this: Delonte’s well-publicized breakdowns don’t happen because he’s a problem child who needs corralling. He isn’t a malicious person by any means, intentionally undermining teams that don’t make him happy. If that were the case, it would be true that simply putting West in a position in which he feels comfortable might be enough of a solution to make him worth a shot. No, West has a diagnosed disorder, one that he struggles with daily. His problems aren’t those of an entitled, petulant player, but rather those of a man struggling with a chronic health problem. If Brandon Roy was looking for a new team, it would be advisable for him to search out teams who are good at rehabilitating a knee. Delonte West needs to find a team who can work with him the same way.
While it’s true that the NBA is a business, sometimes it’s important to consider things other than business, both for the good of the team and for the good of the individual. This is one of those times. Delonte’s skillset would undoubtedly help the Celtics. But unless they are absolutely certain that they have the healthcare personnel necessary to take good care of him, Boston should resist the temptation to bring West aboard both for his sake and for Boston’s. Not because he couldn’t help the team (he could), not because Boston wouldn’t embrace him (we would, and his teammates likely would as well), but because his mental health is too important, both to him and to the chemistry of whichever team eventually signs him.
And if that team ends up being the Celtics? I’ll be thrilled. I would love to hear that Boston could take care of Delonte well enough to keep him healthy. He is a talented player, to be sure, but more importantly, he’s eminently worth cheering for.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.